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Banks: Closures

HM Treasury written question – answered on 15th January 2018.

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Photo of Chris Ruane Chris Ruane Shadow Minister (Wales)

To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent discussions he has had with retail banks on branch closures by those banks.

Photo of Chris Ruane Chris Ruane Shadow Minister (Wales)

To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of bank branch closures on (a) the social isolation of individuals and (b) high street businesses.

Photo of Chris Ruane Chris Ruane Shadow Minister (Wales)

To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made on the effect of bank branch closures on the trends in the level of start-up companies.

Photo of Chris Ruane Chris Ruane Shadow Minister (Wales)

To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, what support his Department provides to credit unions to deliver a banking service in rural areas where high street banks branches have closed.

Photo of Chris Ruane Chris Ruane Shadow Minister (Wales)

To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate his Department has made of the number of high street bank branches that have closed in the last twenty years.

Photo of John Glen John Glen Minister of State (Treasury) (City), The Economic Secretary to the Treasury

Treasury Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery. Details of ministerial and permanent secretary meetings with external organisations on departmental business are published on a quarterly basis and are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/hmt-ministers-meetings-hospitality-gifts-and-overseas-travel

The Treasury does not make assessments of, nor collect data on, bank branch closures. While the decision to close a branch remains a commercial judgement for banks, the impact on communities must be understood, considered and mitigated where possible.

The industry’s Access to Banking Standard, launched in May 2017, commits banks to ensure personal and business customers are better informed about branch closures and the reasons for them closing, along with the options they have locally to continue to access banking services, including specialist assistance for customers who need more help. The Access to Banking Standard is monitored and enforced by the independent Lending Standards Board.

99% of banks’ personal and 95% of banks’ business customers are now able to withdraw cash, deposit cash and cheques, and make balance enquiries at a Post Office counter via its network of 11,600 branches. At Autumn Budget 2017, my predecessor wrote to the Post Office and UK Finance to ask them to raise public awareness of the banking services available at the Post Office for individuals and SMEs.

The Government also recognises the important role credit unions play in delivering essential services to financially underserved communities. To help expand credit unions’ reach, at Autumn Budget 2017 the Government announced that where a credit union’s membership conditions are based on a local area, a credit union will be able to increase the number of potential members it can have to from 2 to 3 million. This will allow individual credit unions to offer their services to more people over a wider area.

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